While Mallex Smith and Jace Peterson continue to be pleasant surprises for Braves fans, it’s easy to forget that the prize of the Justin Upton deal was lefty Max Fried. Fried was drafted straight out of high school with the 7th overall pick in the 2012 MLB Draft by the Padres. He is projected to be a top of the rotation pitcher. Between the 6’4”, 170 pound build and the fact that he is left-handed, many scouts salivate over Fried’s potential. He has good stuff, but it more of a groundout pitcher than a strikeout guy right now. However, Fried has the potential to up his strikeout numbers. He throws a two-seam and four-seam fastball that sit in the low to mid-90’s, a curveball with a ton of life (could become his plus pitch), and a changeup. The Braves have one of the best left-handed prospects in the game in Fried. He got off to a nice start in Rookie and Low-A ball in 2012 and 2013, but unfortunately he blew out his elbow after five starts last season, requiring Tommy John Surgery. Therefore, we likely won’t see Fried until 2016. The good news is that the kid is still just 21 years old, and while any major injury can hinder a player’s production, he has a ton of time to get back on track and become a big time arm for Atlanta. Going into 2014, MLB.com had him ranked #43 among all prospects in the baseball. If not for the injury, he would have ranked high once again. While Fried is young and is yet to see AA, many say he is quite close to MLB-ready regardless. One thing he may need to work on it reducing his walks, as he has averaged 4.1 walks per nine innings in the minors. I have Fried ranked as the #4 prospect in our farm system.
You can take a look at Fried here: